Should the state be able to take your kids, or does it have too much power?

From: WXYZ and Parental

A few days ago, WXYZ in Detroit, Michigan, ran this video about the power of Michigan to take kids away from their parents without any claim of danger to the child. Michigan is one of only two states that allow state workers to take children into custody without charging the parents with any crime, and without even a claim – let alone a showing – of imminent danger to the child.

The lead story in the article is from a couple of years ago, when Christopher Ratte bought his son a lemonade at a Detroit Tigers baseball game. Ratte had no idea the drink was actually alcoholic – a “hard lemonade” – and no one at the stadium warned him, either. But near the end of the game, stadium security called in a Detroit police officer, who handed the child over to the Department of Human Services (DHS). A test performed at the hospital shortly later showed no alcohol in the boy’s blood, but he was already taken from his parents, and subsequently placed into foster care.

Fortunately for the Ratte family, their 7-year-old was returned after only three days. But doesn’t the state have too much power if they can whisk a child away from his parents over an honest mistake, when he was not negatively affected and there was no evidence that he would be in danger if he stayed with his parents?

Not according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), an international treaty that would essentially apply Michigan’s standard to the other 49 states and not the other way around.

That’s because, if the CRC is ratified, the government will become responsible for every parenting decision you make, and the state – not the parents – will be ultimately responsible for the provision and protection of every child. One vote by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate is all that is needed to make the CRC supreme over the contrary laws of any state in America, turning the police-state nightmare faced by the Ratte family into the reality for every one of us.

What’s more, America’s standard is already drifting that way on its own.According to the WXYZ account, “Michigan ACLU Director Michael J. Steinberg says [the] Michigan law is unconstitutional because it allows a child to be taken from his parents without having to prove the child is in immediate danger.” And defense attorney Tracy Green, in talking about the law’s application in another case, asserts, “This is a clear violation of this father’s fundamental right to parent.” But the federal courts no longer agree with these opinions.

Federal courts since 2000’s Troxel v. Granville case no longer apply the fundamental rights standard to parental rights as most state courts do. Instead of the strict scrutiny test that would require, for instance, evidence of impending harm before a child can be removed, the Supreme Court left every parents’ rights case open to the judge’s own interpretation and opinion.

Another troubling case highlighted by WXYZ is that of Bryson Stone. Right after Bryson was born, his mother willingly gave him up to his biological father, Milton. Though the mom had issues with illegal drugs, Milton was an upright citizen, even approved by DHS as a foster parent to his own cousin and to several other foster children at various times. But they refused to let him parent his own child, instead taking Bryson out of the hospital and placing him in foster care. Milton, who was never accused of being abusive or negligent, lost his son completely simply because the state felt it was “in the best interest of the child.” This is also a standard of the CRC, and it is also a consideration recognized by the Supreme Court in Troxel, to be weighed against a parent’s rights.

Clearly, the Michigan law gives the state way too much power over innocent families. But if we don’t want that law to become the norm throughout the country, we must adopt the Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Only this proposal addresses both the drift of the Supreme Court and the threat from international law such as the CRC.

Action Items

Pass it on. People understand that the government is the villain in stories like these. They will understand that an Amendment to stop these intrusions is a good thing. And we need to spread the word to as many as possible before the Amendment is introduced in Congress in the next couple of weeks and we need lots of phone calls to get things moving forward.

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Michael Ramey
Director of Communications & Research


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